Hatcher v. Knowlin, Civil Action No.: 6:11-1319-RMG

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
Decision Date10 February 2012
Docket NumberCivil Action No.: 6:11-1319-RMG
PartiesRicky L. Hatcher, #305505 Petitioner, v. Gregory Knowlin, Respondent.

Ricky L. Hatcher, #305505 Petitioner,
Gregory Knowlin, Respondent.

Civil Action No.: 6:11-1319-RMG


Dated: February 10, 2012


In this case, Petitioner is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis and seeks habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C, § 2254. As a result, this case was automatically referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for all pretrial proceedings pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2), DSC. On August 4, 2011, Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 15-16). On August 19, 2011, Petitioner filed a response. (Dkt. No. 20). On January 26, 2012, the Magistrate issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that Respondent's motion for summary judgment be granted. (Dkt. No. 23). On February 14, 2012, Petitioner filed objections to the Report and Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 26). As explained herein, the Court adopts the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation and grants Respondent's motion for summary judgment.


The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and responsibility for making a final determination remains with this Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). This Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objection is made, and this Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings

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or recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court may also "receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate with instructions," Id. Where the Petitioner fails to file any specific objections, the Magistrate Judge's conclusions are reviewed only for clear error, see Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins, Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and this Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the recommendation of the Magistrate. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198 (4th Cir. 1983).

Petitioner is a state prisoner who was previously convicted in state court on certain drug charges. Petitioner appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting drug evidence for which the State failed to prove the chain of custody and in misstating to the jury the State's burden of proof. See State v. Hatcher, 681 S.E.2d 925, 926 (S.C. Ct. App. 2009). The South Carolina Court of Appeals reversed Petitioner's conviction and remanded the case, finding that the State did not establish a sufficient chain of custody and that the drug evidence therefore should have been suppressed. Id. at 929. The Court of Appeals declined to reach Petitioner's challenge to the trial court's jury charge. Id. The South Carolina Supreme Court granted the State's petition for writ of certiorari and reversed the Court of Appeals in a published opinion. See State v. Hatcher, 708 S.E.2d 750 (S.C. 2011). The South Carolina Supreme Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the drug evidence because the State established the chain of custody to...

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